Waterspouts don’t typically rattle Floridians, but an intimidatingly large one turned heads when it appeared off Destin, Florida, in the Gulf of Mexico.
The massive funnel appeared early Tuesday, Aug. 16, and photos and video quickly spread on social media, including multiple posts from the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Office.
Waterspouts are common off Destin, but this one was big enough — and close enough — to scare people.
“That one is huge ... Goliath,” Katherine Hubbard wrote.
“Water spout? That looks like a tornado,” Lori Dee posted.
“Heck of a water spout. ... Watch out for flying fish!” Virgil Poulsen said.
“Hmmm at what point are they going to call those a tornado and alert the people?” Rita McCoy Hillstead asked.
The waterspout caused no damage as it spun not far from The Henderson Beach Resort & Spa off Matthew Boulevard and Emerald Coast Parkway (US 98), the sheriff’s office reported.
Video posted on social media shows the funnel was linked to an intense line of thunderstorms that filled the horizon.
Waterspouts come in two forms: “Fair weather waterspouts and tornadic waterspouts,” according to NOAA.
“Most waterspouts in summer are not the same as tornadoes,” NOAA reports.
“Tornadic waterspouts are tornadoes that form over water, or move from land to water. They have the same characteristics as a land tornado ... and are often accompanied by high winds and seas, large hail, and frequent dangerous lightning.”
Fair weather waterspouts are wind-fed funnels that began on the water surface and work their way up, NOAA says. However, “they normally move very little.”
Destin is about 150 miles west of Tallahassee.